Some topics feel too big to converse about

I recall a comment somewhere once, pre-Geldorf, to the effect that pop stars sing incessantly about lurve, but never about the human condition. Well, now we have been urged to Feed the World, with all the complexities of context and motivation in that musical message. But do we even some while later have real dialogue about what human compassion of a global kind might mean?

Pressure to desist
The most recent evidence of unwillingness to converse on such matters comes from the question, will WikiLeaks make it even more difficult for US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to push the ‘development’ agenda? Will the disclosures about US foreign policy mean she has to water down her intention to bolster USAID?

There are obviously those who hope this weakening of impetus happens, and in part this will be because of power play between rivals, as well as economic considerations.

Psychologically uncomfortable
Perhaps however this isn’t the whole story? We know that global aid, even more than domestic poverty, is not a vote catcher. Politicians can most often stay safely away from the topic, except perhaps when challenged by vocal celebrity musicians.

Is this ease of ‘escape’ in fact because few of us like to confront the issues on an every day basis?

And is our dislike of thinking about these things, for most of us, because we feel so powerless to do much about it?

What impact can we really have? Even thousands of pounds, dollars, euros or yen will not make a great deal of difference overall, and it’s unlikely we’ll ever know the story of many individuals who do benefit from such sums. You have to be a Bill or Melinda Gates to be sure your money is having impact.

So we mostly make the odd donation, sign a petition or two, and get on with our own lives; we feel powerless, so perhaps we are.

* Is there any way in which real dialogue between ‘ordinary people’ can develop, such that conversation about these massive human issues becomes meaningful?

* Can this only be done in the end via agency (a voluntary, faith etc organisation)? Does the dialogue on these big issues thereby become part of the defining features of the agency as such – thus once more excluding the individual conversations?

* Is it even actually important that the person in the street does sometimes talk of such things? Do those in power genuinely seeking to address the biggest human challenges need this undercurrent of every day discourse to rumble on, as back-up for their efforts to change things?

Posted on December 2, 2010, in Media and Messages and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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